Sunday, June 1, 2014


Wishful thinking


In a National Journal article heded Q&A: Expert Wants Nuclear Plants Taken 'Off the Table' in Cyber-Warfare One U.S. cybersecurity expert is arguing that world nations should jointly pledge they will spare civil nuclear facilities from computer attacks for humanitarian reason.

The "expert" has GOT to be kidding - or else living on Fantasy Island or, perhaps, with Alice in Wonderland.

The threat to cybersecurity is, for the most part, not from sovereign nations (China, Iran, and North Korea being the blatant exceptions) but from rogue groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban, and similar groups - "organizations" may be too formal a word for those affiliated with the groups.

Just as physical attacks on nations' civilians and infrastructures are carried out today by these non-state terrorists, these groups are developing even more sophisticated means to invade critical computers.

Nothing that is networked is safe from cyber terrorists - calling them "hackers" is simply too casual a term for the people generating the attacks that can cause death and destruction as surely as bullets and bombs.

It is curious that the expert apparently is concerned only with "civil nuclear facilities."

I'll concede these are critical and crucial, but certainly not the most critical from a terrorist's perspective.

Far more attractive to cyber terrorists are communications and transportation - primarily airlines and trains. If inconveniencing travelers lack the headlines to make a point, mid-air collisions and train derailments will certainly get peoples' attention.

N-plants in the U.S. are, for the most part, redundancy built on redundancy. While cyber terrorists might succeed in shutting down a power plant, the terrorist is less likely to cause a plant to release radiation. I can't guarantee the safety of N-plants in places like the former Soviet Union and Europe.

While civil nuclear facilities obviously are cyber terrorist targets, I would suggests that they are neither the only targets nor the primary targets.

I think the "expert" is wearing blinders to the reality of terrorism.

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